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Podcasting 101 – Part 2

Last Week: Podcasting 101 – Part 1

So. Podcasting. It’s the new thing. Everyone seems to want to get in on it too. Heck, I’ve started three now. First was the solo podcast – All Things From My Brain, then the wildly more successful Functional Nerds podcast with John Anealio and last, the new SFSignal.com podcast. Each has their strengths and weaknesses but all were derived from a desire to get myself out there and do something fun.

The question I’m trying to help you answer, though, is – should you start a podcast?

There’s a lot of variables you need to consider: Why do you want to podcast? What will your podcast be about? Will it just be you or will you have a co host? Will you do interviews? How often will you podcast? What about the time commitment? Can you afford to podcast?

Our world is changing. We have the ability to go out, purchase a relatively inexpensive computer and with that computer, we can do things that even ten years ago would’ve been far more difficult and cost money that you and I didn’t have. I mean, think about it – with my MacBook – I can podcast. I can record myself on multiple tracks, add music and sound effects, even another person, mix it all down and share it with the world. You can too.

But should you?

Let’s go back through my list of variables one at a time – why do you want to podcast?

In my case, I want to be a published author. Potentially, I can look more attractive to a publisher if I have a built in audience – we call this the ‘authors platform’. Tons of people have blogged about this so again, I won’t rehash what they have already said. I will simply point you here, here and here to give you an idea of what it is.

Why do you want to podcast? You need to answer that before anything else. I can’t really help you there – that’s a decision you will have to make for yourself.

What will your podcast be about? Another really important thing to decide. Will it be all about interviews? Will it be you talking for an hour about knitting? Or Halo? Maybe Food Network? The possibilities are endless, but you need to pick one and stick with it.

Really, podcasting and blogging are very, very similar except in the final product. On a blog, you pick a topic, you write about that topic and you have to stay consistent with your updates, be engaging, and keep your readers coming back. It’s the same with a podcast – if you aren’t engaging and entertaining, no one will come back to listen again. Also, if you are all over the place on topics, that can turn them off as well. You have to stay consistent, find the sweet spot and move forward.

Where podcasting and blogging differ is in the execution and the medium. Most experts will tell you that you have to blog every day to keep your audience coming back. If not every day, then you have to at least pick a day of the week and consistently provide content on that day – like a Friday article or a Tuesday tune. That can mean a lot of writing on your part and it’s really easy to get burned out.

With a podcast, you still have to be consistent, you just won’t have to type/be on your computer every day. Unless you go with a daily podcast which is MADNESS! MADNESS I SAY! But if you go for a weekly format, you have to keep new episodes coming every week. If you go monthly, same thing – you are setting an expectation and you have to meet that expectation or you will lose your audience pretty quickly.

Will it just be you or will you have a co host? I’m not going to lie to you – there are pros and cons to podcasting by yourself or having a partner. Very early into my solo podcast, I started thinking – damn, I need another voice. It just felt like a natural progression. Maybe it will be different for you, maybe not. But keep in mind that two people talking about something is very different from one person monologuing.  Adding a second voice can be gold, or not.  I got lucky with John Anealio.

HIYO! (I stole that from John DeNardo.)

Seriously – I did get lucky.  John and I play off each other really well.  If you’re going to go with a co-host or second voice, you aren’t going to want someone that doesn’t fit well with your personality or you will be constantly clashing and where’s the fun in that?  Or maybe that is the fun for you – I don’t know, only you can answer that question.

Will you do interviews? Interviews can be fun and a way to draw in new listeners. But how will you do them? Will you go out and meet people in person, record the interview and then add it later? Does that mean attending cons?  How will you pay for that?  Will you have to travel?  Will you use something like Skype to call and interview people? You’ll need extra software to record the call if you do. You’ll also need to wrangle people with busy schedules and varying levels of technical savvy – which can be a drain on you and your time (and possibly your checkbook).

How often will you podcast & what about the time commitment?

Those two questions actually deserve their own post so stay tuned for Part 3.

Next Week: Should I Podcast?


Patrick Hester is a writer, blogger, podcasting dude, Denver transplant and all around Functional Nerd who hangs out and posts his stuff at www.atfmb.com. …don’t hate him cuz he has a cool hat.